Close to 350 alligators could soon escape from a wildlife sanctuary in Texas that has become overcome with flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
The reptiles are housed at Gator Country, a 14-acre preserve outside of Beaumont. As the Huffington Post reported, the heavy rains that came from this week’s hurricane have swamped the reserve, nearly overtaking the fencing that keeps the 350 alligators from escaping.
With the weather forecast calling for heavy rain on Tuesday in Beaumont and rain continuing throughout the rest of the week, the wildlife reserve’s founder is worried that the alligators could soon be escaping over the flooded fences.
“We’re less than a foot from going over the fences. All of these are certified high fences, but look ― when it won’t quit, it won’t quit,” founder Gary Saurage said in an interview with KFDM.
Saurage added that the sanctuary was able to capture the crocodiles and venomous snakes and moved them to a safer location, but the nearly 350 alligators remained on the premises and at risk of escaping. Two of the sanctuary’s largest alligators — 13-footers named Big Al and Big Tex — have also been placed in a trailer to stay safe during the flooding. The remaining alligators could escape if the floodwaters rise high enough to allow them to swim over the fencing, he said.
The alligators living in the sanctuary were rescued from the surrounding area, Saurage said, mostly ones that found their way into residential neighborhoods and needed to be taken out.
That is now a huge problem again. The flooding after Hurricane Harvey has displaced a large number of alligators, Saurage told the Beaumont Enterprise, moving them out of their normal habitats and into residential neighborhoods. As he works to secure the gators already living at Gator Country, Saurage said he has been inundated with phone calls about alligator sightings.
“We’re getting calls left and right about sightings,” he said. “There’s just no way I can respond to all of them right now. I’m focused on containing all our gators here.”
Saurage said the best game plan, for now, is to wait for the floodwaters to recede and allow the displaced alligators to go back to their natural habitats. That could be difficult, however, as the flooding is expected to continue as the forecast for the entire week calls for rain.
For now, Saurage said the nearly 350 alligators at Gator Country remain safely contained, though any rise in floodwaters could allow them to escape and join the other alligators taking over residential areas in Beaumont.
[Featured Image by saiko3p/iStock]